Reporters hate transcribing notes and they often ask me during newsroom training what tools work best. They want speed and accuracy with the transcriptions, and they want it free (or very cheap).
I’ve listed many tools on the Toolbox’s Transcription Tools page, but here are my three favorites for speed, use and cost:
- Otter.ai: Otter is the Ferrari of transcription tools and gives you 600 free minutes a month while also offering paid plans for larger transcription projects. The interface is simple and allows you to upload many file types (.mp3, .wav, etc.) or record directly into the software. The transcriptions are very accurate and require little editing. Many reporters swear by it.
- Google Docs Voice Typing: You can skip a recording app on your phone altogether by using this tool on your laptop. Here’s how to do it:
- Type Docs.new in your browser menu to open a Google Doc
- Go to Tools/Voice Typing in the pulldown menu.
- Hit the start recording button and record the conversation from Zoom, Skype or dictate into the microphone. You can clean up text after you are done.One advantage to this tool is you can watch the transcription typed on the screen as you interview.
- Google PinPoint: PinPoint launched in late 2020 as part of the new Google Journalists Studio as a tool for managing large sets of documents, similar to Document Cloud. But with PinPoint, you can upload audio files and it will automatically generate a transcription with timestamps. Accuracy is good but it requires some grammar cleanup. The images below show the upload interface and transcription of a President Obama speech from several years ago.
Video: This training video showcases Otter.ai, PinPoint and how to use the Google Docs recording tool.
Quick tip: You can search Google for a topic by the type of file — Powerpoint, Excel, Word, Google Doc, etc. In the Google search field, just type filetype: followed by the file extension (doc, ppt, csv, xlxs, etc.) and then the topic you’re searching for.
Here’s an example: filetype:csv u.s. mass shootings
This is an excellent shortcut for finding datasets. Give it a try!
Find more resources on JournalistsToolbox.org. Subscribe to our free, twice-monthly newsletter full of tips, tricks and tools. And subscribe to our free YouTube channel with more than 55 training videos. Follow Mike on Twitter @journtoolbox.
Tagged under: transcription